The media throws hundreds of messages at young girls every day. Most are less than encouraging: you’re not pretty enough, you’re not perfect enough, you must have this thing to be liked by your peers, just buy this, and it will make you lovable.
And all of it is complete hooey.
While products were different, the message was the same when I was a kid (though I think, with social media, the messages are getting louder). None of it was helpful to an awkward little girl’s self-esteem who preferred pants to dresses and catching bugs to gossiping about boys. What was helpful, though were these five things that my parents taught me.
1. “You are beautiful.” No, you may not look like a model, or a Disney Channel star, or the girls on Sam and Cat, but you are beautiful just because you look like you. The sparkle in your eyes, the way your face lights up when you smile, and those dimples that remind me of your Dad are simply irreplaceable.
2. “Who you are matters.” Don’t let anyone change that. You are kind, you are smart, you are funny, and you are sweet. People will try you in a lot of different ways that those things are not important. They are.
3. “Don’t give up on an activity you love, just because it isn’t popular.” A lot of girls aren’t interested in archaeology, or volcanoes, or math, or learning ballroom dance, but you are. That is a wonderful and fantastic thing. Don’t let anyone take that away from you.
4. “Whatever career you choose to do, I will be happy as long as you work hard to be the best you can be at it.” Be it a stay-at-home mom, a secretary, a firefighter, or the president of the United States, as long as you work to be the best as it, I will be proud of you.
5. “You’re not me.” Your job is not to live out my dreams. You do not have to choose a career path because I chose it, or a school because that’s where I went, or a sport because that’s what I wish I did. You are unique, and special, and wonderful. Please be you. The world only gets one of you, please don’t deprive the world of that!
These are the messages I want to spread in the books I write.